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It’s only a surprise for Jihoon because he’s spent the last four months cut off from the outside world. At least as much as possible.

So, when Mingyu flutters around the dorm getting ready and Jihoon only begins to take notice, it’s more than an accident. There was always going to be some awkwardness— dating your bandmate only to break things off. Jihoon is good at blocking out what he doesn’t want to see.

Mingyu is standing in their shared room, smoothing his hands over his chest. His eyes stick to his reflection and Jihoon’s world crystallizes to a sharp point.

“You’re going out,” he says. The words come out of his mouth sharp and Mingyu jumps, dropping his hand and wheeling around. He looks at Jihoon like he didn’t expect him to be in the room in the first place.

It stings even though Jihoon has no space to blame him. He hasn’t really occupied any room that Mingyu has been in for a while.

“I have a date,” Mingyu says. So, not going out. It’s a specific destination with a specific person.

Jihoon hums, noncommittal, and looks away.

“Um,” Mingyu says. His thumbs snag on the edges of his pockets and he has his weight slouched forward.

The air in the room goes chilly— sucked out like a storm is gathering between them. “Don’t ask me if it’s okay.”

Mingyu opens his mouth, then shuts it. He repeats the motion again, gaping at Jihoon like a hooked fish.

“I wasn’t going to,” he says, after what seems like a long time.

Jihoon narrows his eyes. He’s trying to remember what he was doing before he actually took notice of Mingyu. Nothing comes to mind. His hands sit in his lap, fingers twisting together.

Mingyu stays put too.

“Hyung,” he says. He sounds pinned— lost. It makes Jihoon think of a butterfly pinned under a pane of glass.

“Just go,” Jihoon says. There’s no weight behind it— he’s tired. Mingyu deflates even further and it reminds Jihoon of the Mingyu he knew before they were idols. The tall, awkward boy who couldn’t hide his crushes. When he liked to slip messy love notes into Jihoon’s bag when he wasn’t looking.

It reminds Jihoon of being the kind of person who kept those notes, once upon a time.

“Have a good night,” Mingyu says. He grabs a jacket from his side of the closet. He doesn’t even stop to check how it goes with the rest of his constructed outfit. “Don’t stay up too late.”

Mingyu has been saying the exact same thing to him for years. All the familiarity feels wrong— peering into part of a life that’s meant for someone else.

“Sure,” Jihoon says. He’s going straight to his studio, anyway. Anything to relieve the persistent itch under his skin.

In the doorway, Mingyu pauses. He stands there for a moment, looking at Jihoon like the might be ready to say something else.

Whatever it is, Mingyu gives up on it after a moment.

After a little bit of paying attention and sliding Chan a few extra snacks, Jihoon learns this isn’t the first date Mingyu's been on.

While Jihoon was removing himself from anything that might be going on in Mingyu’s life, Mingyu’s well-known bromance with Vector’s Chinese main dancer turned into something real. As the maknae, Chan has been collecting all their secrets for years.

“Mingyu-hyung talks about him a lot,” Chan says. He puffs his cheeks out when he realizes he’s drained the last of his Americano. “It’s kinda gross. Seeing him like someone this much.”

Someone else, Jihoon appends in his mind, though he has no idea if that’s what Chan means or not.

Other people don’t think about their breakup as much as Jihoon does. And Jihoon has done everything possible to avoid thinking about it.

“Doesn’t that kid have one of those goofy stage names?” Jihoon says. It’s vindictive in an unnecessary way. Chan realizes it too and he gives Jihoon a flat look in response.

“I dunno if you can be the judge of that, Woozi-hyung.” Chan uses his best aegyo voice on Woozi. Because he’s still looking for information, Jihoon can’t even reach across the table and smack him for it.

Chan realizes this too and beams at him. “Besides, it’s not that bad. I think he picked it out.”

“Doesn’t make it any good,” Jihoon says, mumbling the words into the chewed up end of his straw.

It’s worse when Chan’s expression dips into something sad and pitying for a moment.

“You didn’t notice?” Chan asks. It’s almost tentative. Jihoon isn’t surprised— Chan is sensitive to their feelings in one way or another.

Jihoon sets his cup down hard, making the ice inside the cheap plastic rattle. He tips his head back and sighs, looking anywhere else.

“Of course I did,” he says. It’s true— it’s only because he didn’t want to see it that things only clicked into place. Blinders removed, everything stands before Jihoon in stark black and white. “It’s Mingyu. It’s hard not to notice.”

Chan looks down at the table, swiping his fingers over the already print-marked glass. “You’ve been going out of your way not to see him.”

It seems like it’s doomed to be a day of uncomfortable truth for Jihoon.

“Seemed easier,” Jihoon says, shaking his head. “It’s not like we’ve had any distance since…”

“Since you broke up,” Chan finishes. Jihoon shrugs.

“I guess,” Jihoon says. What does it matter if Chan is right, anyway?

“Do you want me to tell you what Mingyu says about him?” Chan asks. It’s earnest in a way that makes Jihoon’s skin crawl a little.

“No,” he says. He means it too. All the pettiness in the world isn’t enough to keep him safe from the truth if Chan spells it out for him now.

“Okay,” Chan says. He’s still leaving fingerprints in the glass— avoiding eye contact with Jihoon as much as he can.

Jihoon hums, fishing his wallet out of his back pocket. “Do you want another coffee?”

Chan smiles— maybe because Jihoon’s credit card is the most accessible thing about him. “Sure thing, hyung.”

Over the years, Jihoon’s studio has become a hodge-podge of different decorating styles. It’s cluttered in a comfortable way— lived in. It’s much more personal than the dorm room he shares with Mingyu, which mostly only contains his clothes and a few other small things.

But his studio is full of anime figures, little toys that Chan and Seokmin have given him, albums he’s produced for signed by other singers. There is scattered equipment, at least five different pairs of headphones, and an old couch that Jihoon sleeps on when he doesn’t feel like making the trip back home late at night.

Currently, Soonyoung is stretched out on the old couch, his feet draped over one of the sunken arms of it, his body turned sideways to look at Jihoon.

“So this wasn’t a booty call?” He asks one arm propping up his head. Jihoon glances over his shoulder and rolls his eyes.

“You said you wanted to do a song together,” Jihoon says, frowning at one of the audio files he has open.

“I wanted an excuse to talk to you,” Soonyoung says. Jihoon isn’t sure if he really means that or not but the idea of Soonyoung, the main dancer of one of Korea’s most famous boy groups, looking for an excuse to talk to him. It’s silly to think about; Soonyoung is charismatic and charming. Jihoon still has trouble not looking annoyed when he’s had a camera pointed at him for too long.

But, after spending time with Soonyoung, it also makes sense he would feel like he would need a reason. Soonyoung is shy when Jihoon isn’t expecting it and bold when it’s most surprising. He’s impossible to pin down. It frustrates Jihoon to no end.

It’s a good kind of frustration, though. Like trying to solve a puzzle.

“So you’d rather just be a booty call?” Jihoon asks, still focused on the screen in front of him. Soonyoung is quiet for a moment like he really has to think about the answer.

He swings the chair around unexpectedly, leaning over so his face is close to Jihoon’s. There’s a smile on his face but his eyes are bright and fierce in the way that Jihoon is used to seeing on stage.

“I’m happy with whatever you’ll give me,” Soonyoung says, his hands on either side of the chair, caging Jihoon in. A hot stone drops into Jihoon’s stomach but he scowls, trying to ignore it. Soonyoung grins, standing up straight and taking his seat on the couch again.

“Play me what you have so far,” Soonyoung says, stretching out.

Jihoon purses his lips, turning around to face the computer once again, keying the volume up.

When he mentioned doing a collaboration with Jihoon, Seungcheol had pulled a face and told him to be careful. Jihoon doesn’t blame him— Soonyoung seems like the type who enjoys playing around. But the more time they spend together, the more Jihoon starts to think that Soonyoung means the things he says for real.

That worries Jihoon even more than the alternative.

Soonyoung is the maknae of his group and it shows in funny ways. He does everything like he's scared of getting caught.

Under the blanket, they're sharing he has his fingers linked together with Jihoon's. Like he means it to be a secret from both of them. There's no one else in Soonyoung's spacious apartment to see. From the lights outside, twilight washes over the rest of the room.

To himself, Jihoon wonders if Soonyoung thinks the gesture of affection is less likely to meet rejection like this. He has a point. If their hands were laying intertwined on top of the blanket Jihoon would have to see them. He'd pull away to avoid how it makes him feel a way he can't explain.

For all the boisterous presence he has, Soonyoung has found an unobtrusive way of sinking beneath Jihoon's skin.

"You're holding my hand," Jihoon says, his voice scratchy and tired.

"You're holding mine," Soonyoung says. He has his eyes shut, but Jihoon can hear the smile in his voice.

"Shut up," Jihoon says, heatless. He hasn't pulled away. Now that he’s acknowledged the contact he feels like shying from it would be a loss of some kind. Maybe he likes the sweaty way their palms stick together. "I'm not sleeping here unless you go shower."

"How are you so impossible to please?" Soonyoung says. His broader body pulls in close, Jihoon can feel the bed shift, but he presses into Jihoon and feels compact. "If I get up and shower you'll follow me in."

"I need to clean up too." By way of defense, it's weak. Soonyoung has plenty of hot water for both of them.

Soonyoung hums, not listening. He's taken to nuzzling his cheek against Jihoon's like an overgrown cat. Jihoon could shove him away but their hands are still interlocked. He doesn't know how to make the move without separating them. Soonyoung is frustrating like that.

"You have to get up early," Jihoon says, peeking one eye open now. Soonyoung's eyes glitter in the half-light of his apartment. His stubby fingers skate down the arch of Jihoon's ribs.

"That's always true," Soonyoung says. He shakes his head, bumping their foreheads together. "Stay anyway."

For a moment longer than he should, Jihoon thinks about it. Really thinks about it. The slight shake of his head is an act of inevitability but Soonyoung doesn’t hold it against him. He sits up, dragging their hands out from under the cover of the blanket and into the light.

Jihoon looks at them for a moment before he detaches.

“I’ll stay and shower,” he says. Soonyoung smiles and Jihoon ducks his head to avoid the brunt of it.

Soonyoung pulls himself free of the sheets, detaching from places Jihoon didn’t realize they were touching. The sudden lack leaves him cold and Soonyoung is halfway out of the room before Jihoon drags himself upright too.

Jihoon doesn’t expect that anyone else will be awake when he gets home. His excursions with Soonyoung tend to keep him out late and as good as he feels leaving he’s not exactly eager to explain to anyone else where he’s been.

He walks into the dorm to find the living room light still flipped on and the television playing in the back his first instinct is to turn around and leave once again. He can always go spend the night in his studio.

But a rare curious impulse gets the better of him— it’s well after midnight. Seungcheol should have chased anyone else off to bed by now. Jihoon inches his way through the door, shutting it and pausing to shrug off his jacket and step out of his shoes.

He can hear voices, indistinct against the noise of the TV. Two of them for sure.

“—the door,” someone says. It takes a moment for Jihoon to process Mingyu’s voice. He hesitates and Mingyu sits up, draping his arm over the back of the couch.

They stare at each other for a second, Mingyu’s face going red in the low light. He’s very much not alone. The first thing Jihoon notices is the kiss-swollen state of his mouth and his mussed hair. It’s familiar in a way he isn’t sure he’s comfortable seeing. Like what a picture of Mingyu might have looked like after Jihoon finished with him.

There’s another boy kneeling on top of him; skinny and dark-haired. His eyes parse every one of Jihoon’s movements like Jihoon is the intruder and not him. They’ve never been properly introduced, but he knows Xu Minghao by face, at least.

“Um, hyung,” Mingyu says, his voice dry. “I thought you were—”

“I’m going to bed,” Jihoon says. “It’s late.”

Minghao still has his long fingers hooked around the back of Mingyu’s neck. He’s waiting for Jihoon to storm off so he can resume kissing all the good sense out of Mingyu. It makes Jihoon’s lip curl.

“Does Cheol-hyung know you have a friend over?” Jihoon says. His voice is lower, struggling to speak over the TV. Mingyu shakes his head.

After who he spent his evening with, Jihoon may not have the ground to be so irritated. But at least his transgressions weren’t in the fucking living room.

(Besides, he tells himself that Mingyu found himself a new bed to lie in first and that makes all the difference in the world.)

“I convinced him to let me in,” Minghao says. His thumb traces a mole on the side of Mingyu’s neck. “I can leave.”

“You should,” Jihoon says. He swipes his palms over his eyes like he’s trying to wipe the sight away and turns to go to bed like he promised. From the corner of his eye, he catches sight of Mingyu’s form deflating but he refuses to let himself feel bad about it.

It’s not Jihoon’s fault they were necking on the couch like teens.

There are a few minutes of quiet mumbling, though Jihoon can’t pick out a word. The television and the light curling in from the hall are both shut-off. Mingyu makes his way into their shared room in the dark.

Jihoon almost starts to hope he’ll go to sleep without saying anything.

“Hyung,” Mingyu says, standing at the edge of Jihoon’s bed, wringing his hands together. Jihoon still has his eyes open, watching the shadow of Mingyu’s large form move around the room.

“I’m not gonna say anything to Seungcheol,” Jihoon says. “You should think about getting a hotel or something in the future.”

“I’m not worried about that,” Mingyu says. He continues hovering and Jihoon sits up, waiting for him to elaborate. “Are we—” Mingyu starts, then cuts off.

“Are we what?” Jihoon says when he doesn’t pick up his thought again.

“Okay?” Mingyu asks. “You and me. Are we okay?”

Jihoon’s stomach sinks through the bed and to the floor. He buries his face in his hands and sighs. “Mingyu…”

Jihoon doomed himself into having this conversation, one way or another. He’s the one who broke things off, after all. And he’s the one who asked Mingyu to give him time— to try to find a better way for the two of them to…

It doesn’t matter. Mingyu clearly got tired of waiting. Jihoon's tired too.

“You haven’t been talking to me,” Mingyu says, his voice picking up speed as he goes. “I would’ve told you about Minghao before we even went out but I knew you didn’t want to hear about it. And Seokmin-ah said you’ve been, uh, collaborating with that dancer…”

“I’m not seeing Soonyoung,” Jihoon says. He’s not— at least not the way that Mingyu seems to be seeing Minghao.

“Oh,” Mingyu says. He still hasn’t moved; frozen at the foot of Jihoon’s bed. The silence stretches out long and twisting between them.

Jihoon wants to tell Mingyu that he doesn’t care about Minghao or anyone else that he might end up dating. He wants to wish Mingyu all the scrawny dancers his heart desires and the bony children to match. It’s not beyond him to hurt Mingyu— he’s done it too many times on accident. But he’s never been capable of doing it on purpose.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jihoon says. “I wanna go to sleep.”

At least the darkness masks most of Mingyu’s expression. “Okay,” he says, shaking his head. He finally leaves the foot of Jihoon’s bed to crawl into his own. “Okay.”

It isn’t that Jihoon woke up one morning and decided he didn’t love Mingyu anymore. Just like he never woke up one morning and decided it would be a good idea to fall in love with him, to begin with. Like with so many other things, Mingyu found a way to squeeze by Jihoon’s best defenses.

Jihoon woke up one morning and realized that loving Mingyu and advancing his career were never going to go together. He couldn’t be a success and be the kind of person Mingyu needed. It hurt more than he expected— realizing that it was easy to choose his career over his heart.

Mingyu is either ignoring him or still pretending not to be mad at him, Jihoon isn’t sure. They’re doing a fashion photo shoot today, in clothes that Jihoon mostly thinks he looks silly in, and Mingyu has done everything in his power to not get caught talking to Jihoon.

It’s only been a few days since Jihoon caught him on the couch with his new boyfriend. And true to his word he didn’t say anything about it to Seungcheol, saving Mingyu from getting scolded for it. It doesn’t seem to have earned him any points in Mingyu’s eyes.

“What’d you say to him?” Seungcheol says when he catches Jihoon staring at Mingyu a moment too long. Mingyu catches him as well but quickly turns and pretends he doesn’t notice, going back to whatever game he’s playing with Chan.

Jihoon shrugs, looking back at his phone and tugging the sweater he has on back down over his sides. There’s no way to make it sit right. Jihoon resigns himself to never understanding fashion. “I didn’t say anything.”

“Okay,” Seungcheol says, rolling his eyes. He wraps one arm around Jihoon’s waist, leaning over his back and plucking Jihoon’s phone from his hand. “So why are you two acting like this?”

“Like what?” Jihoon asks, refusing to look back at Seungcheol. He keeps glaring at the space where his phone once was, waiting for Seungcheol to give it back.

“Like you can’t even be in the same room,” Seungcheol says. When Jihoon frowns and doesn’t answer, he sighs. “Hoon-ah, what’s going on?”

“I don’t know why he’s mad at me.” Jihoon tries to wiggle his way free from Seungcheol’s grasp, huffing when doesn’t manage it. “I just told him I didn’t wanna talk about his new boyfriend.”

Seungcheol sighs again, letting Jihoon go. He drapes his hand on Jihoon’s shoulder instead, returning his phone to his lap.

“You two,” he says, shaking his head. “I thought you were finally getting it together again.”

“Apparently not,” Jihoon says, pushing his fingers through his hair.

“You need to figure it out,” Seungcheol says, frowning. It’s not his Leader Frown, it’s something smaller and more private. It makes Jihoon want to get up and leave the conversation entirely.

“I know,” Jihoon says, resigned.

“You said you didn’t want to affect your work,” Seungcheol says, still more gentle than he needs to be. “This is definitely affecting things.”

“I know,” Jihoon repeats. He shoves Seungcheol’s hand away, slouching over to glare at his phone. “I don’t know how to fix it.”

“Try talking to him,” Seungcheol says. Mingyu is still lingering on the other side of the room, leaning on Chan but not really listening to whatever their youngest member is saying to him.

“I don’t know how,” Jihoon says, more quietly. It’s something he wouldn’t confess to anyone but Seungcheol, and even saying it to him makes Jihoon want to crawl into a hole and never come out again.

He hates seeing Seungcheol look at him with pity. Jihoon picks himself up off the floor, shaking his head before Seungcheol can say anything else. He whips past Mingyu and Chan, mumbling an excuse to the manager about going to the bathroom on the way out.

He doesn’t need to be gone for long. Just long enough to avoid the rest of this conversation with Seungcheol.

He doesn’t see Xu Minghao for another three weeks. He hears of him— on the news and in snippets of conversations that Jihoon avoids making himself a part of. But he doesn’t catch Minghao sneaking in and out of their apartment at night. Mingyu learned one lesson, at least.

When Jihoon does see him again, they’re in Hong Kong. The awards show has stretched at least an hour longer than Jihoon can stand. Even his practice at holding a professional attitude is starting to fail him. Seungcheol is sitting on his other side, a perfect neutral-interested expression on his face while he watches a rookie girl group running one of their songs.

Jihoon looks bored. He is— incredibly so. But there’s also a prickling feeling at the back of his neck like someone is watching him. It’s getting more and more irritating by the minute.

The song ends and Jihoon twists, following his instinct. He locks eyes with none other than Minghao. He doesn’t look away or pretend he wasn’t the one staring. His brow furrows like he’s trying to pick some detail out of Jihoon’s expression.

For a second, Jihoon wonders if he’s supposed to get Mingyu’s attention. Then he decides even if he’s supposed to, he doesn’t want to. Before Jihoon turns back around, the corner of Minghao’s mouth lifts in a smile. He leans his head in the direction of the door, signaling. Jihoon has to wonder if this kid has the energy to pick a fight at one of these shows.

“Bathroom,” Jihoon mumbles after a moment, patting the side of Seungcheol’s shoulder. Seungcheol glances at him then the manager. After a moment she nods, waving Jihoon out.

It doesn’t take much searching to find Minghao in the artist backstage area. He stands out— tall and willowy with his hair tied to the back of his head and wire rims resting on the tip of his nose. His suit is miraculously unwrinkled.

“Something on your mind?” Jihoon asks, leaning his shoulder against one of the whitewashed brick walls. There’s no one else back here to care about what the two of them might say to each other.

“Something,” Minghao says. There’s a little smile attached to it. “I thought we should meet.”

“We’ve met,” Jihoon says, flat.

“I know you used to date him,” Minghao says. He has his hand up his sleeve, adjusting the thick band of his watch on his wrist.

“Mingyu?” Jihoon asks though the statement doesn’t need any clarification. Minghao nods anyway. “So? What about it?”

“You’re still hung up on it,” Minghao says. The words grate on Jihoon’s nerves— Minghao doesn’t know him well enough to make a call like that. “He is too.”

“I can’t do anything about that,” Jihoon says, narrowing his eyes.

“I have an offer,” Minghao says. He fishes one hand in his pocket, pulling out his wallet. Jihoon is about to laugh at the idea that he needs someone else to buy him off, but what Minghao pulls out isn’t money. It’s a white key card with the name of a hotel in Mandarin printed on it. Jihoon doesn’t know the name but he recognizes the logo.

He doesn’t reach out to take it. “What?”

“I think you two need to… get things out,” Minghao says. He purses his lips, choosing each word carefully. “I’m willing to help.”

“How kind,” Jihoon says, rolling his eyes. “If you think that you could back out.”

“I don’t give up on the people I care about,” Minghao says. Jihoon isn’t sure if that’s intended as a dig at him or not— he can’t tell well enough from Minghao’s face. He’s still offering the card in Jihoon’s direction like he expects Jihoon to take him up on… whatever this is.

“So what?” Jihoon asks, taking the card but pitching his voice lower. “You’re inviting me to come screw my ex in front of you so you don’t have to feel bad anymore?”

“No,” Minghao says. He stands a little straighter— towers over Jihoon in the same annoying way that most people do. “I’m inviting you to a hotel room. Tonight. So Mingyu doesn’t feel bad anymore.”

Jihoon looks down at the plastic and frowns. “Why does he feel bad?”

“You’ll have to ask him that,” Minghao says, shaking his head. “It was his idea.”

“Doesn’t have a number on it,” Jihoon says, tucking the card in the pocket of his pants.

“Room 900,” Minghao says. He steps away from the wall, ducking his head stiffly in Jihoon’s direction. “I should get back to my team.”

The casual way he walks off makes Jihoon grit his teeth into a line. He stays put until it doesn’t look like they came or went together. Until he’s definitely going to be coming back after the next song has already started.

It means Mingyu will be less likely to say something when he sits back down.

For as long as he can, Jihoon lingers around the hotel room he’s sharing with Seungcheol. He tries to ignore the plastic keycard burning a hole in his pocket. As much as he was certain he didn’t want to involve himself in whatever it is Mingyu and his new boyfriend have in mind, the thought is persistent.

It isn’t that Minghao was particularly subtle in what he was offering. Jihoon got the message. But it should be much easier to banish as pure lunacy. On a whim, he pulled open Instagram on his phone— not the public account they all have as a group but his own private social media feed.

From there, he’s ended up on Mingyu’s private page. It’s been a while since Jihoon allowed himself to look at any of it. It’s just a reminder of how many reluctantly taken couple pictures of him and Jihoon Mingyu deleted after they broke up. Worse than that, it’s now covered in fashionable shots of him and Minghao on different dates. Little mementos— pictures of their watches lined up together in a hotel room, the two of them leaning together in the elevator of their dorm building with their faces almost touching. It makes Jihoon realize exactly how far out of Mingyu’s life he’s pushed himself.

In amongst the date pictures, there are other shots of him with the members; getting ice cream with Seokmin, a video of Chan playing a game on his phone, him and Seungcheol at the gym. But Jihoon no longer exists on his feed at all. Like ending their relationship wiped him out of Mingyu’s life entirely.

Maybe it’s just as much Jihoon’s own fault. He certainly hasn’t been trying to involve himself, either.

Jihoon is pacing around the room, fingers tapping on his thigh, unable to let the offer go. Maybe it’s just the offer of sleeping with Mingyu again that’s caught him off guard— even if it comes with his new boyfriend attached.

It would be a lie to say that the thought doesn’t linger in his mind. Even with the outlet of Soonyoung, Mingyu still gets caught up in the tangle of his thoughts. The single glimpse of Mingyu stretched on the couch with his mouth red and swollen and his hair fluffed into a mess was enough to drag up… something. Maybe it’s just nostalgia but the longing feels real either way.

Seungcheol leaves the shower before Jihoon has an answer. He’s still pacing around the room and Seungcheol pauses, holding his towel around his waist, watching for a moment.

“Are you having a fit?” He asks, leaning his head to the side.

“No,” Jihoon says, the word sour in his mouth.

“You’re wearing holes in the carpet,” Seungcheol says, shaking his head. “You can’t lose it over one night out of the studio.”

“It’s not about that,” Jihoon says. He purses his lips, looking around the room, trying to shake the way Minghao’s offer has eaten under his skin like a compulsion. “I’m going out.”

Seungcheol, standing between the bathroom and the bed, preparing to get dressed, stops. Jihoon’s shoulders flinch inward without meaning to— it’s not hard to guess why that seems odd. Jihoon never goes out.

“Okay,” Seungcheol says, drawing the word out long. “Wanna explain where?”

“I really don’t,” Jihoon says, almost laughing. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea, even.”

“Uh huh,” Seungcheol says, nodding along. “You sure you don’t wanna think about it?”

“I think so.” Jihoon steps into his shoes, shaking his head. “I probably won’t be back tonight.”

“Don’t kill anybody,” Seungcheol says, his forehead creasing in genuine worry.

“I won’t,” Jihoon says. He pulls his jacket on over his shoulders, running his fingers over the plastic edge of the key in his pocket. He can’t even begin to explain to Seungcheol what he has in mind.

The door swing shuts behind him and Jihoon pulls the collar of his jacket up around his mouth. The yearly awards shows have pulled plenty of fans to the area and he has no desire to be noticed.

Luckily, the hotel Minghao gave him a key for is only a block or so away and Jihoon is small and inconspicuous to go unnoticed. The doorman lets him through with barely a glance— all the idols going in and out of luxury hotels don’t even raise an eyebrow anymore.

Jihoon slinks to the back corner of the elevator and hopes he didn’t somehow arrive before Mingyu. There’s nothing worse he can think of than showing up early to a threesome. The thought makes him hesitate outside the proper door, holding the key but debating knocking anyway.

He can hear the low hum of music from inside, a song he doesn’t recognize. He swallows hard, fitting the plastic key into the lock. The door beeps politely, informing Minghao that it’s been opened.

Jihoon isn’t prepared for the sight that greets him when he steps through the door. The room is large and dimly lit— more money than Jihoon would spend on himself for just a night or two. The bed is lush with velvety blankets and Mingyu is sitting on top of it.

His head leans to the side when Jihoon walks in, half a smile catching on his face.

“Hey, hyung,” he says. He seems almost relaxed— Jihoon knows him better. The back of his neck is bright red and his hands are gathered and tense in his lap. “I wasn’t sure if you were gonna… actually come.”

“Is this supposed to be a joke?” Jihoon says, looking around the room. There are candles lit along the side of the bed and there’s jazz playing.

“Minghao likes the ambiance,” Mingyu says, laughing.

“That’s not what I mean,” Jihoon says, his hand tensing into a fist. “This seems like it’s a prank or something.”

“It’s not,” Mingyu says, sitting up a little straighter.

“Where is Minghao-ya?” Jihoon asks, craning his neck to look around.

“Shower,” Mingyu says, tilting his head toward the bathroom door.

“Am I supposed to… what? Just get started?” Jihoon asks, his eyebrows creeping together. Mingyu laughs, his cheeks flushing an even deeper shade of pink.

“Not… not if you don’t want to,” Mingyu says, rubbing the back of his neck. “How about a glass of wine?”

“Red?” Jihoon asks. He’s noticed at least a few new additions to Mingyu’s habits lately… the way he’s switched from beer to red wine when they go out for dinners, the new mechanical watch wrapped around his wrist.

Mingyu pushes himself up off the bed, grabbing an opened bottle of wine from an ice bucket next to one of the cabinets. There are two glasses already on the dresser and partially filled but Mingyu produces a third. He fills it up part way and Jihoon holds his hand out for it.

The wine is heavy and sweet in his mouth and Jihoon ends up standing a few inches away from Mingyu. Over the sound of the music, he can dimly hear the shower turning off in the other room. He expects Mingyu to shy away or step back before Minghao comes out but he stays put. Jihoon doesn’t know what to say about any of it so he just has another long sip of wine.

He’s pretty sure he’s not the only one in the room who’s never been in a threesome before. Maybe that doesn’t matter as much as he thinks it does.

For someone coming out of the shower, Minghao is surprisingly dressed. He has a loose silk robe around his shoulders and he pauses for a moment when he notices Jihoon.

“Oh,” he says, not quite smiling. “You did come.”

Mingyu grins, lopsided and soft. For the first time, Jihoon notices the tense excitement underlying Mingyu’s nerves.

“Is this for real?” Jihoon asks, meaning to just pass the words between him and Mingyu.

“If you want it to be,” Mingyu says, shaking his head.

Jihoon supposes the other option is to leave and pretend none of this ever came up. Mingyu would let him get away with it but he’s not sure he wants to walk away. Against his better sense, Jihoon does want to be here. He wants to see what might unfold.

Minghao is a few feet away, checking one of the candles, pretending he’s not stealing glances at them every few seconds.

“Okay,” Jihoon says. He turns to set the half-drained glass of wine down.

Mingyu clears his throat, taking half a step back in the direction of the bed. Minghao leaves off pretending he’s not paying attention, turning around and scraping his eyes over the plain black outfit Jihoon has on.

Jihoon wants to say something about it— that he didn’t know there was a dress code he was supposed to follow. But more than that, he wants to take the chance to sink into Mingyu once again.

What is a surprise is the way Minghao hesitates a few feet from him, one hand gathered in the sleeve of his robe, the other reaching out in Jihoon’s direction. Jihoon pauses, looking at Minghao’s offered hand.

“You and me?” Jihoon says, lifting his eyebrows.

“It’ll be less awkward if we get it out of the way,” Minghao says. His expression is open and easy but Jihoon can’t help but feel slightly challenged by his words.

“He’s shy,” Mingyu says, giggling to himself.

“I’m not,” Minghao says, his grin cutting sideways when he looks back at Jihoon.

Jihoon scowls to himself for a moment before stepping forward so he’s just short of pressing into Minghao. There’s no reason for him to be the one to back down.

Minghao’s smile lingers, sharp at the edges, just before he leans down and covers Jihoon’s mouth with his own. The kiss is a surprise in the way that kissing anyone new is. Jihoon’s lips part on instinct and because Minghao is taller than him, he has to tilt his head back to continue the kiss.

He can hear shuffling from behind him— Mingyu moving around on the bed— but it’s not enough to pull his attention away from the way Minghao’s tongue traces the seam of his lips. It takes a moment for Jihoon’s mouth to open in response. He’s still caught up between kissing Minghao and listening to the train of thought screaming through his head. His mouth is frozen against Minghao’s, lips parted enough just to allow the slight intrusion of his tongue.

Minghao starts to pull back and Jihoon does the same, his hands hanging limply at his sides. Before the two of them have a chance to fully separate, Mingyu stands up and presses himself up against Jihoon’s back. It makes Jihoon jump slightly though the feeling is still familiar. Mingyu’s palms are broad and warm, scorching into Jihoon’s skin through the thin fabric of his shirt. It makes Jihoon shiver involuntarily, leaning back into the breadth of Mingyu’s chest.

“You have to relax,” Mingyu says, his voice slipping down the back of Jihoon’s neck. One of his hands slips around the back of Jihoon’s head, thumb skimming down the sensitive shell of his ear. It makes Jihoon want to turn and bite at his wrist. It’s been just long enough since the last time he was with Mingyu that the feeling has some novelty.

Jihoon huffs, tilting his head toward Mingyu’s hand. “This isn’t really the most relaxing situation.”

Mingyu laughs, leaning down and tugging the edge of Jihoon’s ear between his teeth. Jihoon jolts, hissing a low sound out between his teeth. His instinct is to turn and push Mingyu back onto the bed— for as big as he is, Jihoon has plenty of experience getting his hands all over him. But Minghao is still pressed up close to his chest and it pins Jihoon in place. Minghao leans down again and this time Jihoon is more prepared for the kiss. Mingyu’s hand is still cupped around the back of his head, making it harder for him to pull away regardless.

It’s easier— more natural— the way their lips fit together this time. Jihoon sinks his teeth into Minghao’s lower lip, refusing to get stuck between the two of them with no authority over the situation. Minghao hums and Jihoon can feel the way his mouth almost lifts into a smile. He lets Minghao’s tongue flick between his lips, the angle pressing him back into Mingyu more firmly.

From the angle he’s at, Jihoon can feel how Mingyu is half-hard and pressing into the small of his back. The way his hips hitch forward for friction makes Jihoon grin, pulling back from Minghao to look back at Mingyu.

“Are you not getting enough attention?” Jihoon asks, curling his fingers around the angle of Mingyu’s hip. Mingyu’s face flushes pink and Jihoon grins a little wider. Minghao takes half a step back, giving Jihoon plenty of space to turn and hook his fingers in the loops of Mingyu’s pants, pulling them flush together. “It should really be you in the middle, shouldn’t it?”

He drags his thumbnails against Mingyu’s skin, just enough for him to feel it. An extra breath rattles out of Mingyu’s mouth and he nods, slow but unashamed. Jihoon, for the moment, tries to put everything else out of his mind— how strange it all is. This, at least, is something he knows well enough. He presses Mingyu back toward the bed, releasing his hip when Mingyu drops to sit on top of the covers. He has his head tilted back just slightly, thrusting his chin out.

For the first time in almost six months, Jihoon kisses Mingyu.

Mingyu leans into it, almost smashing their faces together, pulling Jihoon in closer than he really needs to. All the excitement he’s been restraining gets poured into the kiss and Jihoon lets Mingyu’s tongue push past his teeth. He digs his fingers into the thick hair at the back of Mingyu’s head, dragging him in closer. Mingyu looses a small sound, his hands on Jihoon’s hips once again. Jihoon uses his grip to tilt Mingyu’s head to the angle that suits him best and the way Mingyu leans so easily into it makes even more heat well up in his stomach.

He is no less pliant— it seems— when there’s an audience around. It’s easy enough for Jihoon to tune Minghao’s hovering presence out of the back of his mind; he’s already known for his single-mindedness. But Mingyu is a different story… his eyes keep pitching off to the side where Minghao is standing, his attention torn between the two of them. Jihoon drags his mouth over the angle of Mingyu’s jaw instead, keeping his head tilted in the direction Minghao is standing in.

Jihoon has never been a competitive person but when he works his hands up Mingyu’s shirt it still feels like he has something to prove. His thumbs follow the crease of his muscles— up his sides. He presses the pad of his finger into one of Mingyu’s nipples, almost laughing when Mingyu jerks slightly.

He has no idea how the logistics are supposed to go. Minghao doesn’t seem like the kind of person to regularly invite people over to have a go at his boyfriend while he watches. Jihoon isn’t the kind of person who would agree to it, either. But Mingyu is there, tipping the balance between them and Jihoon is just barely resisting the urge to lay a dark bruise on the base of his throat.

“Mingyu,” Minghao says, almost scolding. Mingyu’s head jerks, even though he was already looking in Minghao’s direction, his lips parting further. “You have to tell him what you want too.”

Jihoon could argue that he doesn’t need coaching when it comes to Mingyu, but the shudder that passes through Mingyu’s frame distracts him from it. Mingyu’s eyes drag away from Minghao and back to Jihoon, his tongue darting out over his lower lip.

“I’m supposed to pick who goes first,” Mingyu says after a drawn-out moment.

“Then pick,” Jihoon says, dragging his palm across Mingyu’s chest.

Mingyu shivers, opening his mouth and then shutting it again.

“Greedy,” Jihoon says, lowering his voice. “You can’t decide?”

Mingyu shakes his head, digging his nails into Jihoon’s hips. Jihoon’s grin stretches out wide and predatory. “Do you need more help?”

Before Mingyu actually forms an answer, Jihoon steps back and detaches himself, dropping his hand from under Mingyu’s shirt. Mingyu blinks slowly and it only takes enough time for Jihoon to get out of the way for Minghao to be occupying the same place. Mingyu reaches for him as well, letting Minghao plant slow kisses on his face. He avoids Mingyu’s mouth— kissing along his nose, his cheeks, the corner of his lips. It makes Mingyu squirm, his knees squeezing around one of Minghao’s thighs.

Minghao takes Mingyu’s face between his hands, holding him still to put a slow kiss to his lips. The way Mingyu goes soft and easy for it almost makes Jihoon want to scream— he’s never seen anyone else kiss Mingyu. Minghao holds him in place, keeping Mingyu from leaning so far off the bed that he knocks the both of them over.

“Lay back,” Minghao says, tapping his fingers against Mingyu’s cheek. He waits until Minghao lets go of his face to comply, laying back on the bed and pulling his hands up over his head to stretch himself out further. Minghao pushes his thighs further apart, digging his fingers into the muscle. His palm slides over the swell of Mingyu’s cock, pressing down just enough to make Mingyu whine.

By this time in his career, Jihoon is used to situations that make him feel uncomfortable. Whatever he’s feeling watching Minghao pull Mingyu’s shirt up over his stomach, laving his tongue along the skin of Mingyu’s stomach, he’s definitely unfamiliar with. Mingyu’s fingers bend into the blankets, pulling the thick cover under him into wrinkles. He keeps twitching his hips up and down like he can’t decide if he wants to push up in Minghao’s direction or squirm away.

From where he’s hovering in the middle of the room, Jihoon can see the flash of Minghao’s teeth before they sink into Mingyu’s skin. It makes Mingyu gasp, his head tilting back against the sheets. There's a thin sheen of sweat clinging to Mingyu's skin and Jihoon can't help the way he gets drawn back to the bed.

Minghao hardly spares him any attention even when the bed dips under the weight of Jihoon kneeling on top of the mattress. He settles close to where Mingyu has his head, leaving Minghao to continue nipping at his tan skin, mouth inching closer to where his pants chafe against his skin.

Mingyu reaches out, hooking his fingers around the back of Jihoon's thigh and pulling him in closer. It takes him a little work to get one elbow underneath himself, propping his chest off the bed so he can yank the silver buckle of Jihoon's belt open with unsteady fingers.

Jihoon tilts his hips forward but doesn't do anything else to help— Mingyu doesn't complain though he does sputter out a vain sound when Minghao's teeth drag over his hip. The pull of his attention in two different directions makes Mingyu’s fingers even clumsier than normal and it takes extra fumbling before he gets Jihoon’s pants out of the way.

Jihoon’s fingers scrape back through his hair, pushing his bangs away from his face. It makes Mingyu tilt his head back, his mouth parting a little further. Jihoon’s hand drags across the side of his face, pressing his thumb against Mingyu’s lower lip.

“You’re supposed to make up your mind,” Jihoon says, trying to ignore the way heat washes up in his stomach when Mingyu’s mouth closes around his finger. If Minghao has any argument on the matter he doesn’t offer it— focused on hauling Mingyu out of his loose pants and kissing the arches of his hips again. Mingyu’s mouth is sloppy and Jihoon isn’t about to be the first one to pull away either. Minghao’s fingers hook in the waist of Mingyu’s briefs, pulling them down just enough to reveal the flushed head of his cock. With Jihoon’s eyes on him, he drags his tongue over the slit of Mingyu’s cock where it’s damp and sticky with precome.

Part of Jihoon still hates the idea that he’s sharing with Minghao. It’s definitely unfair of him to feel this way— if anything, Minghao is sharing with him and that grates on Jihoon just as much.

Maybe that’s the point that Minghao was trying to make from the beginning— he could be dangling Mingyu in front of him only for both of them to change their mind later. It’s not something that Mingyu would make himself a part of, though. Even if he hates Jihoon now he’s never had that kind of malice toward anyone.

The thought isn’t enough to pull him away, anyway. He drags his thumb out of Mingyu’s mouth, smearing saliva over his cheek. Mingyu’s lips hang parted, hand curling in a clumsy fist over Jihoon’s cock.

“Mingyu,” Minghao says, his voice a low murmur against Mingyu’s pelvis. The sound of his name makes Mingyu jerk slightly, his attention yanked over to Minghao. Minghao sits up when he knows he has Mingyu’s attention, flattening his palms over Mingyu’s hips and pressing them down into the bed. Mingyu sticks his lower lip out in response, petulant. He lets go of Jihoon to grasp at Minghao’s thin shoulders. He pulls Minghao’s body against his and before Mingyu kisses him once again, Jihoon catches the barest hint of something tender in Minghao’s eyes.

Belatedly, Jihoon thinks they should have come up with some kind of rules for this arrangement. As it is, he’s stuck waiting while Minghao sucks Mingyu’s tongue into his mouth. Minghao does something with one of his hands that Jihoon can’t see from where he’s sitting near Mingyu’s head, but it makes Mingyu jerk back and yelp. He laughs right after, low and strained when the sound wheezes out of his lungs.

“Okay, okay,” he says, responding to whatever silent scolding Minghao is giving him. “Hyung first.”

“Good,” Minghao says, speaking against Mingyu’s lips. They share one more kiss before Minghao pushes himself up, pulling away from Mingyu and climbing off of the bed.

Before he starts thinking too hard about the fact that Minghao is definitely planning on watching Jihoon fuck his boyfriend, he leans over and presses his mouth to Mingyu’s instead. Mingyu hums into the kiss, shifting so he’s no longer laying flat on his back. All the moving around breaks the kiss and gives Mingyu the space to wrestle Jihoon’s shirt over his head.

“Don’t let him come,” Minghao says, with the casual air of someone observing something very different. Jihoon wants to bite back that he doesn’t need the instruction but truly he doesn’t mind it all that much. Mingyu has never been good at coming twice, anyway.

Mingyu has much more objection to it than Jihoon does. He tips his head to the side and whines, looking up with a pathetic little frown like he expects that to change Jihoon’s mind. Rather than give in, Jihoon smirks and leans in closer, so his face is an inch from Mingyu’s. When Mingyu pitches forward for a kiss, he leans back just far enough to avoid it. Mingyu huffs once again, his brow furrowing in a pout.

“You could be nice to me,” Mingyu says, a little teasing underlying the suggestion. Jihoon almost laughs at him for it, but instead, he puts his hand on the side of Mingyu’s neck and presses his thumb into the light impression of his teeth left on the side of his throat, pressing down on the spot.

“Do you want me to be?” Jihoon says, mumbling the words an inch away from Mingyu’s lips. It only takes a second for Mingyu to shake his head. He has his hands on the bare skin of Jihoon’s back, fingers spread wide enough that it feels like he’s covering the whole thing.

In the beginning, the difference in their size used to irritate Jihoon. Especially when they were trainees and Mingyu had more limbs than he knew what to do with and Jihoon hadn’t grown a centimeter in a year and a half. But when it comes to sex, it makes Jihoon feel powerful in a unique way— as small as he is, Mingyu is still like putty in his hands. Maybe that’s more to do with Mingyu than with Jihoon; he’s not complaining either way.

“You’ve got everything, right?” Jihoon asks, lifting his eyebrows. Mingyu nods but before he can move off the bed, Minghao clears his throat. Jihoon looks over his shoulder, his face burning the second he makes eye contact with Minghao, a bottle of lube and plastic wrapped condom in his hand. When he doesn’t immediately reach for them, the corners of Minghao’s mouth lift in a slight smile.

“I can prep him if you want,” he says. His voice isn’t needling the way Jihoon would’ve expected with the words— the offer is plain and simple. Mingyu makes a strained, reedy sound in the back of his throat and it makes Jihoon’s mouth go dry.

“Fine,” Jihoon says. He moves so he’s kneeling behind Mingyu rather than in front of him, putting his weight against Mingyu’s bare back. He doesn’t think either of them were really expecting him to say yes, but Minghao’s grin gets wider and Jihoon can feel the way Mingyu’s breathing goes heavy and shallow.

Minghao kneels between Mingyu’s spread legs, setting both items down next to his hip to finish pulling Mingyu’s briefs off, dropping them to the floor. Mingyu tilts his head back against Jihoon’s shoulder, his long body stretched out bare between the two of them.

“This was such a bad idea,” Mingyu says, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. Minghao muffles a small laugh against the inside of his thigh, fingers curling loosely around his cock. “I shouldn’t have let you two in a room together.”

Jihoon drags his teeth down the side of Mingyu’s neck, making him shiver from the contact. From where he’s kneeling, he has a full view of Minghao seated on the floor between Mingyu’s legs— robe slipping off his shoulder to reveal the defined arch of his collarbone, dark eyelashes hanging over his eyes while he focuses. The intimacy of it all is surreal and he gets why Mingyu is still looking in any other direction.

“Pay attention,” he says, nipping at the shell of Mingyu’s ear. Minghao chooses the same moment to pump his cock, making Mingyu bend his back away from Jihoon and lift his head up. Minghao looks up, staring at the both of them before he closes his lips around Mingyu’s cock. Mingyu jolts and Jihoon grabs onto his sides to hold him in place, forcing him still after a second.

Minghao is generous with the lube he pours directly over Mingyu’s skin, making him hiss. He keeps Mingyu’s cock in his mouth, bobbing his head shallowly and working the first of his long fingers past the tensed ring of his muscles.

Jihoon has absolutely never been this hard before in his whole life. His cock is pressed up against the small of Mingyu’s back and it’s a struggle not to grind his hips forward for friction like a teenager. Mingyu’s chest heaves around every breath and Jihoon runs both hands over his stomach and up his sides.

When Minghao pulls his mouth off of Mingyu to breathe over his cock, Mingyu’s head tips back again, eyes shutting like he can’t stand the sight of what the two of them are doing to him. Jihoon’s fingers dig into the flesh of his chest, squeezing until he makes dents in Mingyu’s skin, palms pressing into his nipples.

“You’re doing so good for me,” Minghao says, pushing a second finger inside. It must be a habit for him because after a second he seems to realize it, glancing up at Jihoon. “Us,” he amends, bending his wrist to seek out Mingyu’s prostate. “So good for us.”

Jihoon can see the way Mingyu’s thighs shake, trying to close together around Minghao’s shoulders. He turns his head to the side, burying his face in the crook of Jihoon’s shoulder, whining into his skin. Minghao doesn’t pause in what he’s doing, working Mingyu apart around two of his fingers, but Jihoon detaches one hand to drag down the center of Mingyu’s stomach. He wraps his fingers around Mingyu’s cock, squeezing when Mingyu’s hips lift up toward his hand.

He can feel Mingyu’s mouth moving against the side of his neck, either kissing him or mumbling against his skin, Jihoon isn’t certain.

“Not too much for you, is it?” Minghao says, sliding his other hand up the inside of Mingyu’s thigh. When Mingyu doesn’t pull his face away to respond right away, Minghao pauses and sits up further. He gives Mingyu’s leg another tap, eyebrows vanishing under the ends of his bangs.

“M’okay,” Mingyu says, shifting his head so his forehead is against Jihoon’s neck. Jihoon can’t see what expression Mingyu has on his face but he can see the mirror of it in the small, tender way Minghao smiles in return. He immediately wishes he hadn’t— tiny as it is— it wasn’t meant for Jihoon to see to begin with.

He’s lucky that they don’t linger on staring at each other for more than a few seconds. Jihoon doesn’t need to take the memory of how Minghao looks at Mingyu home with him. Minghao goes back to stretching Mingyu’s hole around his fingers, a furrow of focus forming in his brow. Jihoon reaches out with his other hand, grabbing the bottle of lube from the expensive blanket and circling his arms around Mingyu’s waist to dump it over his own fingers as well.

Still stuck behind Mingyu, the angle when Jihoon fits his hand between Mingyu’s thighs is awkward but Jihoon can make it work. He teases his slick fingers around Mingyu’s already stretched rim, listening to his breathing hitch before dragging out in a long whine. He’s careful about fitting one of his fingers in alongside Minghao’s, letting it sink in slowly. Minghao’s other hand is curved over Mingyu’s hip in an effort to keep him in place and Jihoon nips gently at the side of his neck.

“Oh, fuck,” Mingyu says, his voice shaking. Jihoon’s fingers are shorter and stubbier than Minghao’s, meaning Mingyu can definitely feel the difference with both inside of him. His nails drag over the blanket before he reaches one hand out and grabs at Minghao’s shoulder, looking for anything to cling onto it seems.

Jihoon presses his hips against Mingyu’s back, making sure he can feel the hard line of Jihoon’s cock digging into his skin. “Ready?”

He pushes his finger in as deep as the angle allows him, Mingyu’s muscles flexing around him. Mingyu nods his head jerkily, nails biting crescents into Minghao’s shoulder. Minghao hums, leaning forward and darting his pink tongue over the slit of Mingyu’s cock again. Mingyu jerks, his hips lifting in an effort to try and push into Minghao’s mouth once again.

Minghao doesn’t give him the chance— he presses one last kiss to Mingyu’s cock before pulling away and standing up. It leaves Mingyu with only Jihoon’s finger inside him and he huffs at the loss. Jihoon half-expects him to change his mind and say he wants Minghao first instead. But Minghao takes a seat in the chair a few feet away, looking remarkably composed for someone about to play audience to his boyfriend sleeping with another man.

Jihoon figures he’s not really in a position to question him for it. He pulls his hand away as well, dragging his sticky fingers over Mingyu’s thigh and leaving a trail of excess lube shining on his skin.

“On your stomach?” Jihoon says, phrasing it as a question rather than a direction. He’s not sure what position you’re supposed to use for something like this and he doesn’t exactly want to poll Minghao’s opinion on it directly.

But Mingyu just nods, stretching himself across the bed on his front. Jihoon rescues the condom from the blankets, tearing it open and shoving his underwear down around his thighs. Mingyu wiggles around until he’s balanced on his knees, his chest laying on the bed. He’s positioned facing Minghao, which means Jihoon is as well when he lines up just behind Mingyu. Jihoon isn’t sure if he likes that better or not. It might be worse if he couldn’t see Minghao at all— at least this way he might be able to gauge some kind of reaction.

He hisses through his teeth when he rolls the condom on, resisting the urge to get too familiar with his own hand. He drags his cock between Mingyu’s thighs, gathering up the lube on his skin before lining up the blunt head with Mingyu’s rim. Mingyu sucks in a deep breath before he pushes in, arching his shoulders against the bed when Jihoon slowly breaches him.

In spite of all the prep, Mingyu is still almost unbearably tight. Jihoon grits his teeth, digging his nails into Mingyu’s hips and pulling him back slowly. It takes a moment for their hips to meet and Jihoon leans forward, holding his breath for a moment. Mingyu wraps hot and tight around him and Jihoon has to shut his eyes and give both of them a moment to get used to the feeling.

Even with his eyes shut, Jihoon can feel the weight of Minghao’s eyes trained on both of them. It makes his gut ball up hot and tight and when he does open his eyes, Mingyu is staring at Minghao in return, his mouth open as he breathes.

“Hyung,” he says, giving his hips a careful nudge back against Jihoon’s. “Move. Please.”

Jihoon doesn’t need to be asked twice— though there have been plenty of nights in the past where he was happy to make Mingyu beg. He draws his hips back, shoving back in slow and harsh. He keeps his hold on Mingyu’s hips, forcing him to hold still and wait for Jihoon to set the pace that he wants.

This could easily be the last time Jihoon ever sleeps with Mingyu and he wants to draw it out as long as he can. Mingyu doesn’t make it easy— even with Jihoon hanging onto him he keeps trying to grind his hips back against Jihoon’s, upsetting the slow pace of his thrusts.

“You’re being bad,” Minghao says, shaking his head. His attention is intent on Mingyu and Mingyu shakes his head in response, picking his cheek up from the sheets.

“I’m not. I need—” he starts but Minghao cuts him off with a shake of his head.

“Behave,” Minghao says, though the breathlessness of his voice undercuts some of the scolding. Jihoon drags his nails down the back of Mingyu’s thigh, pushing his cock in all the way and grinding their hips slowly together.

“You want him to see you be good, don’t you?” Jihoon asks, leaning over Mingyu’s back. Mingyu nods, turning his head back to look in Jihoon’s direction. Mingyu’s face is flushed pink, his eyes glazed over. Jihoon regrets never having made such a complete mess of him on his own— he looks unforgivably pretty like this. He saws his hips back halfway only to thrust in again, the head of his cock dragging against Mingyu’s prostate this time.

He repeats the motion again and Mingyu drops his head forward with a groan, letting it hang between his shoulders. He keeps fucking Mingyu as slow as he can make himself, punching a low sound out of Mingyu’s lungs with each thrust. Minghao is leaning forward in the chair, hand knotted in a tight fist in his lap, breathing quick and shallow. Jihoon is surprised he isn’t touching himself, then surprised he has an opinion on the matter at all.

Jihoon is going to have plenty to take home with him without the addition of Minghao watching the two of them with his dick in his hand. Jihoon leans forward, plastering his chest to Mingyu’s back, biting an imprint in the back of his shoulder since he can’t reach the back of his neck from this angle. When they were dating, it always worked in Jihoon’s favor— he couldn’t get away with leaving marks on Mingyu’s neck, but his back is far less likely to be seen by stylists or fans. He drags his tongue over the indent left behind in Mingyu’s skin, nails scraping along his hips. Mingyu arches into where Jihoon is pressed into him, letting out strained sounds every time Jihoon thrusts along his prostate.

“Hyung, please,” Mingyu says, his voice cracking on the words. He doesn’t clarify what he’s asking for, though Jihoon gets the point anyway. He shakes his head, dragging his teeth along the knobs of Mingyu’s spine.

“No,” he says, sharp and simple. Mingyu whines at the denial, squirming against Jihoon’s tight grip on his hips once again. He must decide that asking Jihoon to take pity on him is a waste of his time because he lifts his head enough to shoot a pathetic look in Minghao’s direction instead.

Minghao leans forward in the seat, his breathing somehow still rattling in Jihoon’s ears from so far away. “I want you to wait for me, baby.”

Mingyu buries his face in the sheets and groans, his body clenching tighter around Jihoon. Minghao’s mouth lifts in a smile and rather than leaning back he keeps talking, lowering his voice further.

“You can hold out, can’t you?” He asks, coaxing. “You’re doing such a good job taking it. You look so good.”

It would be hard to tune out what Minghao is saying, even if Jihoon were trying. As it is, he rolls his hips with Mingyu’s and straightens up so he has the leverage to screw his hips forward harder each time. He can feel the way all the muscles in his body go tight and the way Minghao is murmuring filthy encouragements in Mingyu’s direction is hardly helping him stave off his orgasm. Minghao must realize it too, because he abandons just sitting and watching to kneel down in front of the bed once again, petting his fingers through Mingyu’s sweaty hair.

He kisses Mingyu’s forehead and keeps talking, low enough that Jihoon can’t quite make out what he’s saying. Whatever it is, it makes Mingyu whimper and tense up further, his thighs starting to shake.

Jihoon comes watching Minghao pull Mingyu into a messy kiss, tongue invading his slack mouth, stealing the sounds that Mingyu is making. Jihoon ducks his head forward, biting down on his lower lip until his mouth tastes metallic, pumping his hips through it. He strokes his thumbs in tight circles on Mingyu’s hips, soothing over the thin red lines left by his nails. When Jihoon pulls out, Mingyu’s hips slide down so he’s laying flat on the bed, no longer supported by Jihoon holding him up.

As much as Jihoon wants to collapse on the bed next to him and turn off all his awareness of the rest of the room, Mingyu is still huffing out little whimpers and grinding his cock into the sheets, seeking the relief he’s been denied up to this point. He shuffles to the side, grabbing his underwear from the floor and finding a small trash can to discard of the condom in.

By the time Jihoon is properly out of his way, Minghao already has his clothes abandoned. He negotiates Mingyu onto his back, hands dragging down his heaving chest. Mingyu groans weakly, spreading his legs apart and grabbing at Minghao where ever he can reach. Between his legs, his cock is flushed an angry red and his stomach is covered in precome. Minghao coos, stroking his fingers over Mingyu’s used hole.

“Are you tired out now?” He asks, pressing two of his fingers inside. Mingyu’s breath hitches, shaking his head and arching his hips up, trying to push Minghao’s fingers in deeper.

“Not tired,” Mingyu says, pulling at Minghao’s shoulders like he’s still not quite close enough. “I can take you too, please. Wanna come.”

“So greedy,” Minghao says, shaking his head. “Maybe I spoil you too much.”

“Minghao,” Mingyu says, whining and rolling his hips down against Minghao’s fingers. Minghao pulls his fingers out, the slick sound of it making the back of Jihoon’s neck burn when he hears it.

He has no idea what he’s supposed to do now— sitting in the same chair Minghao was in before and feeling very much like a third-wheel now that his part is finished. He’s not sure that Mingyu would even notice if he left. Minghao certainly would.

Mingyu grips at Minghao’s bare back when he pushes his cock in, his head tipped all the way back.

From where he’s sitting, Jihoon can’t see the look on Minghao’s face but he thinks that might be for the best. The confrontation he has to have with himself is already bad enough without the addition of being able to see exactly how in love with Mingyu his new boyfriend is.

Jihoon can tell already. He doesn’t think that Minghao could hide it even if he tried. Minghao has his hands on Mingyu the whole time he pushes his cock in— one cupped around Mingyu’s cheek and the other stroking along the line of his ribs. What Jihoon can see is the way Mingyu tips his chin up, looking for a kiss and the way he hangs onto Minghao like he can’t bear the idea of letting go.

Minghao leans forward and kisses him, his body bending into Mingyu’s. He rolls their hips together slowly, one of his hands pressing into the bed to support his weight better. Mingyu is boneless on the bed, his grasp on Minghao loosening. Minghao reaches out, grabbing a pillow from the end of the bed and shoving it under Mingyu’s hips to help prop them up further.

He slides his palms up Mingyu’s thighs, pushing them apart as far as he can, pinning his legs to the bed and making it so Jihoon can perfectly see Minghao’s dick sawing in and out at a steady pace. Mingyu’s hands drop from Minghao’s shoulders to grab at one of his arms, fingers wrapping around his wrist.

“Ah, please,” Mingyu groans, dragging Minghao’s hand up to his neck. Jihoon’s stomach pulls in a tight, familiar way— he can’t help remember Mingyu nervously babbling out a request for Jihoon to try putting a hand on his throat, just to see how it felt. In spite of the fact that he doesn’t have the energy to get hard again, Jihoon is forced to remember the way Mingyu always tightens like a vice, even if he’s not lacking any air.

The request makes Minghao groan, fitting his hand around Mingyu’s neck and leaning down so their faces are close together. He releases Mingyu’s leg to lace their fingers together instead, grinding his hips into Mingyu’s.

“Squeeze if you need me to stop,” Minghao says, so softly that Jihoon almost doesn’t hear him. He probably isn’t meant to, he realizes. He waits for Mingyu to nod in agreement before he tightens his fingers around Mingyu’s throat. It’s hard for Jihoon to judge how much pressure he’s using, but Mingyu groans immediately, arching his hips up into Minghao’s.

Minghao’s thrusts are more erratic— more focused on carefully controlling Mingyu’s intake of air. It’s only a few seconds before he releases the pressure and runs his thumb over the bottom of Mingyu’s jaw, following his defined jawline.

Mingyu opens his mouth but before he manages to say anything, Minghao’s hand closes over his neck again and rather than words he chokes on a surprised groan. Mingyu drags his free hand off of the bed, squeezing his eyes shut and wrapping his fingers around his cock.

“Go ahead,” Minghao says, grinding his hips into Mingyu’s, hand still tight. “We wanna see you come.”

The words must remind Mingyu that Jihoon is still observing because his eyes squint open, turning his head to find where Jihoon is seated to the side of the bed, still watching them.

When they lock eyes, it must do something for Mingyu. He throws his head back with a whine, staining his tanned stomach with streaks of white come after barely getting his fingers around himself. Minghao groans in return, pressing Mingyu’s hand into the bed and fucking him through the orgasm. Mingyu is shaking before he finishes but he lays pliant against the sheets, letting Minghao finish without complaint.

Jihoon feels like he should be anywhere else in the world when Minghao pulls out, stroking the flushed swell of Mingyu’s cheek and kissing him slowly. He says something directly against Mingyu’s mouth that Jihoon can’t hear and Mingyu nods in response.

“Sleepy,” he says, his voice cracking with overuse. Minghao laughs in return, kissing the corner of Mingyu’s mouth before sitting up. He glances at Jihoon briefly before climbing off the bed, turning the other direction to vanish into the bathroom.

Jihoon stands, intent on gathering up his clothes so he can be gone before Minghao comes back out. He’s surprised when Mingyu rolls to the side, catching him around the wrist and staring up at him.

“Hey,” he says, a wide smile on his face.

“Hey,” Jihoon says, pressing his lips together in a tight line. “I’ll get going…”

“Wait.” Mingyu sits up, groaning as he stretches his legs out once again. His hair is a mess, stuck to his forehead, and there’s come and lube covering his thighs and his stomach. “We need to talk.”

Jihoon can’t think of a conversation he’d like to have less. “Now? Don’t you wanna shower or cuddle with your boyfriend?”

Mingyu nods, adjusting his grasp so he’s holding Jihoon’s hand rather than his wrist. “I wanna talk to you first.”

“Then talk,” Jihoon says, wishing he could make himself pull his hand away.

“I owe you an apology,” Mingyu says, looking at their tangled fingers rather than Jihoon’s face. Jihoon almost laughs— there’s no way that’s what Mingyu meant to say, right?

“For what?” Jihoon asks, raising both eyebrows. “Did you film this or something?”

“You asked me to wait,” Mingyu says, finally making eye contact with Jihoon. “And this— everything with Minghao— we were spending a lot of time together because he was trying to cheer me up and things just—”

“Stop,” Jihoon says, pulling his hand out of Mingyu’s and shaking his head. “Stop.”

For someone as tall and broad as Mingyu is, he suddenly looks small. “I just wanna make things right again.”

“That’s what this was?” Jihoon asks. “Your way of making amends?”

“I don’t know,” Mingyu says, his eyes darting in the direction of the closed bathroom door before he looks back at Jihoon. “I thought maybe if we did this it would get rid of all the weird stuff…”

“You don’t… you don’t owe me an apology,” Jihoon says, heaving out a long sigh. “I’m not mad because you started seeing Minghao.”

The words feel truer as soon as he says them out loud. He isn’t angry that Mingyu didn’t wait around for him— he feels stupid for having asked in the first place. As much as he hated the idea of someone else being the one to make him so happy, it’s impossible to deny the evidence right in front of him. Especially after tonight.

“You’re not?” Mingyu asks, a small smile on his face.

“No,” Jihoon says, though he’s scowling. It’s not helping his case but he can’t ignore the growing need to escape before the situation gets even messier. Just like breaking up with Mingyu to begin with— their relationship couldn’t exist side by side with their lives as idols, not anymore.

Maybe Mingyu understands that better than Jihoon gave him credit for.

“I want…” Jihoon starts, then shuts his mouth around his words, shaking his head. Mingyu tips his head to the side, curious. “I don’t want you to be unhappy.”

“Are you telling me you approve?” Mingyu says, his smile stretching until it shows the sharp points of his teeth.

Given the situation, it’s ridiculous that the back of Jihoon’s neck burns. He still wishes he were anywhere but here.

“You don’t need me to approve,” Jihoon says, frowning. “It’s not like you’re going to break up with him if I say you should.”

“You’re still my hyung,” Mingyu says, pushing his sweaty bangs away from his forehead. “And you’re my first love. It’d mean a lot to me if you did.”

“Your first love was that girl in your middle school,” Jihoon says, taking an instinctive step back from Mingyu. He remembers the story— Mingyu told it during an interview. About how his first love was a girl who he was too scared to talk to growing up and after he became a trainee she moved away and he lost his chance…

“That story isn’t even true,” Mingyu says, shaking his head and laughing. “I got it from a drama. I figured I’d get asked eventually and I couldn’t really say ‘my first love is Woozi-hyung’ when it came up.”

Jihoon opens his mouth and then shuts again, failing to find anything to say.

“It was you,” Mingyu says, quiet and plain and far too honest for Jihoon’s liking. “Of course it was you.”

Jihoon’s chest aches in an empty, hollow way. The belated realization that Mingyu really was his as much as he was Mingyu’s. The only reason he couldn’t see it is because he tried not to.

When Jihoon still fails to think of anything to say, Mingyu continues. “I don’t want you to be sorry, okay? It was… I’m glad everything between me and you happened.”

“Okay,” Jihoon says finally, breathing out all the air pent up in his lungs. “I won’t be sorry.”

“Good,” Mingyu says, his eyes crinkling at the corners when he smiles. “You gotta let yourself be happy too, okay?”

“I don’t need you worrying about my romantic prospects,” Jihoon says, pursing his lips. If Mingyu gets started he’ll only end up pulling the rest of the members into it. Mingyu laughs, holding his palms up in front of him.

“I’m not doing anything,” Mingyu says. Jihoon knows him well enough, though, that he can see the glitter in his eyes. “But I know you and that dancer…”

“Soonyoung,” Jihoon says, reluctant to give it up. As much as possible, he’s tried to keep it to himself. Both to avoid making the awkwardness between him and Mingyu even worse and because he doesn’t know what to call his relationship with Soonyoung.

Whatever it is, he likes it. More than he wants to admit to himself or anyone else.

“You and Soonyoung,” Mingyu says, nodding. “I don’t want you to be unhappy either, hyung.”

Jihoon glances at the still closed bathroom door. “Is he staying in there until I go?”

“He said he was gonna let us talk things out,” Mingyu says, chuckling. Jihoon nods, gathering his clothes up and starting to get dressed once again. There’s no sense in hanging around— he and Minghao are barely more than strangers to each other and it’s no longer Jihoon’s place to be the person Mingyu clings to after sex.

“Don’t be late getting back in the morning,” Jihoon says, shrugging his jacket on and biting back the urge to laugh when Minghao finally comes back out. He has his robe on once again, this time without anything under it, and a damp cloth in his hand to clean Mingyu up.

Mingyu’s face brightens as soon as he sees Minghao, reaching both arms out in his direction.

“I won’t be,” he says, a few beats late, wrapping both arms around Minghao’s waist to pull him closer.

Jihoon nods, not sure what else to say. He takes the key to the hotel room out of his pocket and sets it on the little table by the door before letting himself out.

They spend two more days in Hong Kong— one filming for an installment of their reality show and one where they’re left to do whatever they would like.

Through a stroke of luck, Soonyoung is also still in Hong Kong. Jihoon has a hard time telling if he’s really busy or not because at the mere suggestion of meeting up, his schedule is free and he has all the time in the world for Jihoon.

It’s a strange feeling— Jihoon doesn’t know what to do with it. Their lives hardly leave space to make anything else a priority. Jihoon has never been at the top of anyone’s list. He’s never put anyone at the top of his own, either.

They meet up for coffee in a loud, artsy place that Soonyoung suggests. Jihoon has a mask over his face and Soonyoung is wearing a bucket hat in six different atrocious shades and Jihoon wants to grab it off his head and get rid of it.

It would be easy to pretend that they aren’t on a date. Jihoon has been doing that for a while when it comes to Soonyoung. But today is different.

“I can't believe you asked me out for real,” Soonyoung says, leaning one of his soft cheeks against his palm. Jihoon entertains the idea of biting one of them later when they aren't in public anymore.

“I can still take it back,” Jihoon says, looking at the dark surface of his coffee. Soonyoung sits up, shaking his head a little frantically.

“No you can't,” he says, his voice drawn out in a whine. “We're on a date. You can't change your mind.”

“Fine,” Jihoon says, no heat behind it. “It's still a date.”

“Does that mean I can hold your hand?” Soonyoung asks. Jihoon squints at him, trying to decide if he's making a joke or not. Soonyoung's face is sincere, the corners of his mouth pulled down slightly. He lays his own hand on the table, palm facing up.

Jihoon has spent a lot of time in the past few months rejecting Soonyoung in various ways. He doesn't mean to be cruel, but Soonyoung's efforts at expressing his affection are constant and he never seems to take it to heart when Jihoon turns him down.

So, when Jihoon takes a moment to think over Soonyoung's offered hand, Soonyoung doesn't flinch or lose his nerve. Jihoon wishes he would. It would save him having to make the decision on his own.

He lays his hand on top of Soonyoung's, curling their fingers together.

“Your palms are sweaty,” Jihoon says. He doesn't pull away.

“I'm on a first date,” Soonyoung says, the smile on his face so wide that his eyes almost vanish entirely. “I'm really nervous.”

Jihoon could point out that it's foolish to be nervous around someone you've already slept with but he's not sure Soonyoung would see it that way. He’s still trying to understand exactly what Soonyoung sees him as.

“Gross,” he says, his thumb wandering over the side of Soonyoung’s hand, tracing his knuckles.

“Have you seen much of the city?” Soonyoung asks, tipping his head to the side.

“We did some sight-seeing stuff yesterday,” Jihoon says, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. “I don’t usually go out on my own.”

“Are you making an exception for me, then?” Soonyoung says, his eyes sparkling. He squeezes Jihoon’s hand a little tighter and Jihoon doesn’t have the heart to shoot him down. It would be a lie anyway.

“I guess so,” he says, shifting the mask from sitting around his chin to covering his mouth, trying to hide the heat creeping into his face. He could’ve waited until they were both back in Seoul, a city he feels at least marginally more comfortable in. But there’s no promise that he would have the time, or that Soonyoung would.

It felt important to see him, too. Jihoon can’t explain to himself why and he doesn’t want to mention that to Soonyoung. It only risks inflating his sense of… whatever they are.

“Jihoon-ah you’re so cute,” Soonyoung says, leaning across the table, almost upsetting the balance of it. “You invited me out special for our first date. We should go do something else.”

“Something like what,” Jihoon says, his voice flat.

“We can go see the harbor,” Soonyoung says, smiling brighter. “Or the big ferris wheel.”

“The Observation Wheel,” Jihoon says, grinning a little. “Aren’t you scared of heights?”

“Not that scared,” Soonyoung says, puffing his cheeks out. “I wanna see what the view is like.”

“We’ll freeze,” Jihoon says, pushing his fingers back through his hair.

“I’ll keep you warm,” Soonyoung says, his smile getting brighter.

Jihoon spends a moment thinking it over. He looks at Soonyoung’s hand, fingers still tangled with his own.

“Alright, fine,” Jihoon says, shaking his head. “We can go.”

Jihoon was right when he said they would freeze. They take the nicest car— the one with cushioned seats and a clear glass bottom and sit shivering on the same side of it almost 200 feet in the air.

As much as Soonyoung protested him picking the more expensive VIP seat, Jihoon figures if they’re going to do it they might as well go all out. He rarely goes out for these things when he doesn’t have to.

Soonyoung has both arms wrapped around him, his teeth chattering directly in Jihoon’s ear. He keeps looking at the transparent panel of the floor and then away, making nervous sounds each time. Jihoon for his part is leaning slightly forward, watching the skyline of Hong Kong beneath them.

He huddles closer to Soonyoung as another breeze whips through the car, making it sway slightly. It’s more from cold than fear of the car dropping clean out of the sky. Soonyoung seems concerned by both because he turns his face to hide against the side of Jihoon’s neck with a groan.

“Are you gonna make it?” Jihoon says, squeezing Soonyoung’s knee with a laugh. The hollow sound inside of the car makes it sound more like he’s cackling wildly.

“I’m fine,” Soonyoung says, his breath warm and damp against the side of Jihoon’s neck. The contrast with the cold air makes him shiver.

It’s a few minutes before their car reaches the top. It hovers there, suspended over sea and skyline, and for the first time since they climbed in, Soonyoung lets go of Jihoon’s arm. He stands, the car rocks slightly when he moves and Soonyoung stops, reaching back in Jihoon’s direction.

Jihoon smiles, hidden behind the mask, reaching out and holding his hand to steady him. Soonyoung steadies on his feet but hangs onto Jihoon’s hand, looking down through the pane of glass below his feet.

“Wow,” he says, laughing. “The view really is incredible.”

“It is,” Jihoon says, staring out over the city of Hong Kong. When he looks up again, Soonyoung is looking at him, his smile growing.

“You’re having a good time,” he says, taking his seat once again. Jihoon frowns, pulling his hand back. Soonyoung doesn’t seem bothered, curling in close to Jihoon for warmth.

“It’s fine,” Jihoon says, turning to look through the other window. “Told you it’d be freezing.”

“I can tell you’re having fun,” Soonyoung says, shaking Jihoon’s arm. “You’re not that good at hiding it.”

Jihoon rolls his eyes, turning back to face Soonyoung once again. But rather than bite out some kind of sharp response but he’s distracted by just how close Soonyoung is leaning. Soonyoung blinks, his eyelashes standing out against his pale skin, before using two fingers to pull Jihoon’s mask down around his chin.

Soonyoung’s lips are chapped and dry when he kisses Jihoon, his mouth warm in contrast to the cold hair. Jihoon kisses him back, putting his hand on one of Soonyoung’s soft cheeks, holding him there.

They stay like that until the car rattles into motion again, surprising them both into jolting apart. Soonyoung laughs, still pressed in close, sliding his hand up Jihoon’s leg.

“Can we do stuff like this in Seoul too?” Soonyoung asks, kissing the corner of Jihoon’s mouth.

“Stuff like what?” Jihoon asks, tugging the mask over his face when Soonyoung leans back, trying to hide the way he can’t help but smile.

“This. Real dates.” Soonyoung smiles and the way he asks is so earnest that Jihoon nods before he thinks over his answer.

“Yeah,” Jihoon says, gathering Soonyoung’s hand up in his own once more. “Yeah, we can do that.”

“Hey,” Jihoon says, laying his arms on Mingyu’s bed, shaking one of his arms. “Wake up.”

Mingyu opens his eyes slowly, blinking, frowning in Jihoon’s direction. “Hyung?”

“I’m starving,” Jihoon says, giving Mingyu another shake. “Get up.”

“Why aren’t you asleep?” Mingyu says, groaning when he sits up, ducking his head to avoid hitting it against the ceiling. Sometimes he still forgets and winds up with a red mark on his forehead that Chan and Seokmin always prod at and laugh at him.

“I just left the studio,” Jihoon says. He steps back when Mingyu drags himself out of the bed, hopping to the floor without using the ladder.

“Okay,” Mingyu says, mechanically pulling on a hoodie, his hair fluffed around his face. “What do you want?”

“Rice,” Jihoon says, grinning. “And kimchi. And maybe some ramen.”

“You’re unbelievable,” Mingyu says, stepping into his shoes. “Where do you put all this food?”

Jihoon shrugs, looking up at him with a grin. “I just get hungry.”

“Are you waking everyone else up too?” Mingyu says, tucking his phone away in his pocket. Jihoon takes a minute to think about it before shaking his head. He hates eating alone, especially late at night, but its been a long week and he doesn’t need to wake the whole team up just for a snack.

“Nah,” Jihoon says, swinging the door shut behind him and Mingyu. “We can just go.”

“Okay,” Mingyu says, draping his arm over Jihoon’s shoulders, hanging weight off his shoulders.

It isn’t until they get around the corner to the store that Jihoon realizes the last time he and Mingyu went to the store like this was when they were still dating, just before Jihoon ended things.

Mingyu is huddled under the hood of his sweater like the shop-keeper is going to somehow fail to recognize them. Jihoon ignores it and focuses on picking out the food he wants, letting Mingyu trail along after him like a lost puppy.

“I’ll treat you too,” Jihoon says, glancing over his shoulder. Mingyu smiles slowly, showing off the points of his canines.

“Really?” Mingyu says, leaning in closer. “Whatever I want?”

“Sure,” Jihoon says, waving his hand. “Anything you want.”

They aren’t exactly shopping in the Gucci store. Mingyu hums, pleased, grabbing several things to snack on himself. It’s late enough that there’s no one else around and Jihoon leaves his mask around his chin. He’s not terribly worried about them getting spotted like this, anyway.

There’s hardly a scandal in learning that Jihoon loves late night snacks. He’s done plenty of live streams where he was snacking with Chan or Seokmin just for fun.

He pays for his food and Mingyu’s before passing both bags over to Mingyu so he doesn’t have to carry them. Mingyu takes them with a laugh, looking down at Jihoon with a grin.

“Is this why you brought me, hyung?” He asks, holding the bags up. “So you didn’t have to carry the food yourself?”

“Of course,” Jihoon says, shoving his hands into his pockets, shrugging his shoulders to hide from the cold.

“Were you working on your song with Soonyoung-hyung again?” Mingyu asks, the bags rustling in his hands.

“Nah,” Jihoon says, shaking his head. “Drafts for the new title track.”

“Already?” Mingyu says, huffing out a sigh. “I feel like we barely got a week off.”

“We did,” Jihoon says, laughing along. “Between the shoots and the award shows, I think it was like three days off.”

“Ah well,” Mingyu says, shaking his head and smiling. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and have a comeback at the same time Minghao does.”

“I think that’s just lucky for you,” Jihoon says, the back of his neck burning. He hasn’t been in the same room as Minghao since they both slept with Mingyu and he’s not eager to see him again.

There’s no way it won’t be awkward and Jihoon has had enough of that to last him the next several years.

“I guess,” Mingyu says, tipping his head back and smiling.

For a moment, both of them are quiet.

“You’ve been going out more lately,” Mingyu says, smiling brightly as they step into the elevator. Jihoon’s ears burn but he nods his head anyway.

“That’s a good thing, y’know,” Mingyu says when Jihoon doesn’t volunteer any more information. “I want you to be happy.”

Jihoon scowls, looking down at the floor. The doors swing open on their floor and Jihoon reaches out, taking his bag of food from Mingyu’s hand.

“I want that for you too,” Jihoon says, gritting the words out between his teeth.

Mingyu must pick up on what he says anyway because he laughs, wrapping his arms around Jihoon from behind. He lifts Jihoon off the floor, squishing him against his chest. Jihoon shouts, kicking his legs and trying to elbow Mingyu off of him.

The racket he’s making is bound to wake everyone else up. He manages to dig his elbow into Mingyu’s ribs and Mingyu sets him down, groaning and pressing his hand against his side.

Jihoon, in spite of himself, laughs. It feels good— normal. Like life is the way it’s supposed to be.